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Potential of Aligned Electrospun PLGA/SIS Blended Nanofibrous Membrane for Tendon Tissue Engineering

Tendons are responsible for transmitting mechanical forces from muscles to bones for body locomotion and joint stability. However, tendons are frequently damaged with high mechanical forces. Various methods have been utilized for repairing damaged tendons, including sutures, soft tissue anchors, and biological grafts. However, tendons experience a higher rate of retear post-surgery due to their low cellularity and vascularity. Surgically sutured tendons are vulnerable to reinjury due to their inferior functionality when compared with native tendons. Surgical treatment using biological grafts also has complications such as joint stiffness, re-rupture, and donor-site morbidity. Therefore, current research is focused on developing novel materials that can facilitate the regeneration of tendons with histological and mechanical characteristics similar to those of intact tendons. With respect to the complications in association with the surgical treatment of tendon injuries, electrospinning may be an alternative for tendon tissue engineering. Electrospinning is an effective method for fabrication of polymeric fibers with diameters ranging from nanometers to micrometers. Thus, this method produces nanofibrous membranes with an extremely high surface area-to-volume ratio, which is similar to the extracellular matrix structure, making them suitable candidates for application in tissue engineering. Moreover, it is possible to fabricate nanofibers with specific orientations that are similar to those of the native tendon tissue using an adequate collector. To increase the hydrophilicity of the electrospun nanofibers, natural polymers in addition to synthetic polymers are used concurrently. Therefore, in this study, aligned nanofibers composed of poly-d,l-lactide-co-glycolide (PLGA) and small intestine submucosa (SIS) were fabricated using electrospinning with rotating mandrel. The diameter of aligned PLGA/SIS nanofibers was 568.44 ± 135.594 nm, which closely resembles that of native collagen fibrils. Compared to the results of the control group, the mechanical strength exhibited by the aligned nanofibers was anisotropic in terms of break strain, ultimate tensile strength, and elastic modulus. Elongated cellular behavior was observed in the aligned PLGA/SIS nanofibers using confocal laser scanning microscopy, indicating that the aligned nanofibers were highly effective with regard to tendon tissue engineering. In conclusion, considering its mechanical properties and cellular behavior, aligned PLGA/SIS is a promising candidate for tendon tissue engineering.

Publication date: 15/05/2023

Author: Kihoon Kim

Reference: doi: 10.3390/polym15102313

MDPI (polymers)


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870292.